Dec. 3, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - The problem with comebacks is that sometimes the clock runs out before the rally is complete. That was the case for the Tulane University women's basketball team on Tuesday evening at Auburn University as the Green Wave dropped a 62-52 decision to the Lady Tigers at Auburn Arena.
Down 37-20 at halftime and trailing by as many as 21 in the second half, Tulane used a 22-8 run midway through the final frame to turn a 46-25 deficit into a seven-point affair at 54-47 with 5:29 left to play. The Green Wave (4-3) had a chance to cut even further into the Auburn (5-3) lead, but missed four consecutive free throws and could get no closer the rest of the game.
"It was a tale of two halves, honestly," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "My message at halftime was that (the first half) was the worst half of basketball I have seen us play in I don't remember how long. We did some of the right things with the right positions, but we made the wrong pass or we just didn't make a good pass. We turned the ball over. Defensively, we just didn't really like to stop them.
"The thing I said at the end of the game was we gave up 37 points in the first half, and we gave up 25 in the second. We didn't shoot much better, but we got offensive rebounds and played defense. If we could have put together two halves like that back-to-back, we really could have competed in this game. But when you are down 17, it is just tough."
As a team, the Green Wave hit just 26.7 percent of its field goals for the game (16-of-60) and only had eight made baskets in each half. One of the big reasons for the comeback was a solid defensive effort which saw Tulane bounce back from allowing Auburn to hit 15-of-30 shots (.500) in the first half to connect at just a .269 clip (7-of-26) after halftime.
Tulane held a slight 46-45 advantage on the boards, including 21 offensive rebounds and used 10 steals to force 17 Auburn turnovers. The Lady Tigers, however, held a 14-11 advantage in second-chance points and used their size inside to hold a 24-18 edge in the paint.
Junior point guard Jamie Kaplan led the Green Wave with 18 points on the strength of a 5-for-12 showing from the field with a trio of 3-pointers, and junior forward Tiffany Dale posted her second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi paced Tulane with 14 rebounds and shared team-high steal honors with Dale and freshman guard Courtnie Latham at two apiece. Sophomore forward Tierra Jones, who made her first career start on Tuesday night in Auburn, led the way with three assists, and sophomore center Chinwe Duru tallied a game-high three blocked shots.
"We just battled," Stockton said. "One of the challenges we have is that this team has so many players in new roles. This junior class has different roles from what they had last year. They have got to know that they have to battle. Last year, we could let the seniors battle, but this year it has to be them. I thought Jamie Kaplan did a great job at that. I thought Adesuwa was tremendous on the boards. Tiffany Dale had another good night. We just have to have better play for 40 minutes. We missed some free throws, and that was certainly significant, but the 17-point deficit at halftime was significant."
Auburn came out of the gates on fire and scored the first seven points of the ballgame to take a lead it would not relinquish at any point. A Brandy Montgomery jumper gave the Lady Tigers their first double-digit lead at 21-10 with 8:10 left to play in the first half and Auburn was up by as many as 18 twice in the opening frame.
After falling behind by 21 early in the second half and trailing by the same margin with 15:46 left to play, the Green Wave mounted their come-back effort on the back of Dale who hit four consecutive free throws and added a layup to make it a 46-31 contest 1:34 later. Duru hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 14-point affair, and following a 3-pointer by Auburn's Katie Ferking, the Green Wave used a Kaplan trey and single free throws by both Latham and Kaplan to get it down to 12 at 49-37 with 10:20 on the clock.
Auburn appeared to regain control of the ballgame and led 54-41 just over three minutes later, only to see Kaplan hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a seven-point affair. From there, however, the Green Wave were just 2-of-9 from the field and committed three turnovers the rest of the way.
"We got it down to seven at one time, and the bad thing was that we were just afraid to sub at that point," Stockton added. "We had momentum, we were afraid to sub and we were probably just real fatigued at that point."
Tyrese Tanner led five Auburn players with double-figure scoring totals with 17 points and posted a double-double of her own with a team-best 13 rebounds. Montgomery was next for the Lady Tigers offensively with 11 points while Ferking, Tra'Cee Tanner, Hasina Muhammad chipped in with 10 each.
Montgomery led the home team with a game-high four assists and Kiani Parker followed suit with three steals. Tanner ad Muhammad shared team-high block honors with two apiece.
The Green Wave return to action on Sunday, Dec. 8, when they play host to next-door neighbor Loyola at 4 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. For tickets to that game, as well as future Tulane athletics events, contact the Tulane Ticket Office. The ticket office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson Jr. Center, and fans can also order tickets on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com or by calling (504) 861-WAVE (9283).